Queens West/ Hunter’s Point South will be the largest development for middle and moderate-income families constructed in New York City since the 1970s. The development will be built along with the former industrial site — Hunters Point South — where Newton Creek meets the East River. It is stage 3 and 4 of Queens West, a four-stage plan for residential and commercial development along the East River in Queens. AvalonBay Communities and Rockrose Development have already begun construction on housing towers in stages 1 and 2 of Queens West.
Mayor Bloomberg identified Hunters Point South as a growth area as early as 2004 when the area was rezoned to allow new residential development. Mayor Bloomberg identified Hunters Point South as the site for temporary housing as part of the city’s 2012 Olympic bid. The New York City Council approved plans for Hunters Point South in 2008.
The land was owned by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the State of New York (under the Empire State Development Corporation). In 2009, New York City purchased 30 acres from the State of New York, for $100 million; six of the 30 acres were given to the New York City Economic Development Corporation.
The remaining 24 acres will be controlled by an additional city agency. Between 2008 and 2010, the New York City Economic Development Corporation and Mayor Bloomberg worked to have the land transfer approved by the Queens West Development Corporation, a subsidiary of the Empire State Development Corporation. In addition to the $100 million the City has spent purchasing the land, the City plans to spend an addition $175 million on infrastructure and clean- up expenses for the entire Queens West site.
The Mayor’s revised plan includes 5,000 residential units, of which 60 percent are mandated for affordable housing for middle-income residents, aimed at those earning between $63,000 and $130,000 for a family of four. The complex will also include a park, a 1,100 seat intermediate/high school, and 22,000 gross square feet for commercial development. Developers will be allowed to build housing up to 30 stories.
Representatives from Queens Community Board 2 worked with the City on the layout of the plan. Community Board 2 members, however, would still like the capacity of the Number 7 line increased. It is the closest subway line to Hunters Point South and connects Long Island City to Manhattan.
Hunters Point South is part of Mayor Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace Plan to 165,000 units of affordable housing by 2014. In June 2010, the City released a Request for Proposal for developers. The subsidized apartments would be permanently affordable for middle-income residents, with the city providing “$90,000 for each of the first 600 subsidized units” according to Rafael E. Cestero, the Commissioner of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development.
Some housing advocates have expressed concern that Queens residents do not earn enough money to be eligible for the subsidized housing. Adam Friedman, Director of the Pratt Center for Community Development, noted that “half of the families in Queens” earn less than the median family income in 2010– $51,290.00. Commissioner Cestero answered this criticism by saying that the city and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development also has a responsibility to create housing for moderate-income wage earners including teachers and firefighters.